Being able to convince someone to see things your way is a wonderful skill that will prove to be useful over and over again. From small decisions such as what movie to watch, to life-altering decisions such as convincing someone to go into business with you, use your products or services, or to fund your next project, the main steps to follow are very similar. Below are the steps that have helped me sway people to my way of thinking on many occasions.
1. Believe in your idea, and know how to define it.
The only way that you can convince someone to do something is by first establishing what it is that you are trying to accomplish. You must know your topic well, truly believe in your idea, and be able to clearly articulate it in such a way that the other person is able to easily understand what you are saying. Know why you are trying to convince the other person, and explain why it should matter to them. As Nicholas Boothman wrote in Convince Them in 90 Seconds, you increase your chances for compliance if you offer a reason why you want something done.
2. Listen to the other person’s point of view.
Are there any preconceived notions or existing beliefs that the other person holds that may impede their cooperation with your idea? Genuinely listen to what the person has to say in order to understand their point of view. Show them that you respect them and their beliefs. Once you feel that you have a good grasp of the other person’s beliefs concerning your idea, repeat it back to them in your own words to prove your understanding, and add to it by expanding on your idea to show the ways in which it could be beneficial to them. Ask the person if they have ideas on how to improve yours, and show them that you value their input. This makes the other person hold a greater stake in your idea because they now feel that it is theirs as well.
3. Be confident and passionate.
Show that you are confident that your idea is one that will be successful and beneficial. Prove that you are passionate and excited about your idea; enthusiasm is catchy and will help get the other person get excited about it as well. Use personal anecdotes or relevant examples that show how your idea can be useful or beneficial. If possible, list examples of similar ideas working in other situations, or past successes.
4. Match the other person’s body language and manner of speaking.
Many body language experts have found that individuals who are in agreement or who enjoy each other’s presence often subconsciously synchronize their body language. This is something that you can do when trying to convince the other person of something. Match their stance and gestures (in a way that is not blatantly obvious), and speak in the same manner as them—do not race through your ideas in such a way that a person who speaks more slowly is unable to keep up or to register what you are saying; speak at the same volume and level of intensity as the other person.
5. Do not force your idea; simply make suggestions.
The easiest way to scare a person off or make them reject your idea is by overwhelming them. Once you have presented the facts and benefits of your idea, let the other person digest it. Do not force your idea, or push too hard; this will cause the person to become defensive and to think of ways in which to refute your argument or to find flaws in it. Instead, you must simply make suggestions and allow the person to make their own decision. Dale Carnegie, in How to Win Friends and Influence People, emphasized the importance of letting the other person feel that the idea is their own. This way, they are much more likely to follow through with it. By presenting irrefutable facts about the benefits of your idea, brimming with passion and enthusiasm, as well as detailing the next necessary steps, you are making the other person’s decision as simple as possible.
By following these steps, you will be able to connect with the person that you are trying to convince on a level of mutual respect and a shared cause. By letting the person know that your mission is greater than that of your own personal gain, you can get them to buy into the idea by listing the ways in which it can benefit them and those around them. By listening to their point of view or objections to your idea, you will prove that you value their input and respect their opinion, and then gently encourage them to see the ways in which those objections can be overcome or refuted. And finally, let the person have enough time to thoroughly think through what you are proposing, and to make the decision of their own free will.